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7/11/2004

Doxosophers

As might be clear, I recently re-read the two volumes of Pierre Bourdieu's Against the Tyranny of the Market, Acts of Resistance and Firing Back. His work is foreign, yet astonishingly relevant, to a random liberal guy trying to navigate modern political controversies. Consider his resuscitaton of the term doxosopher:

The intellectual world is now the site of a struggle aimed at producing and imposing 'new intellectuals', and therefore a new definition of the intellectual and the intellectual's political role, a new definition of philosophy and the philosopher, henceforward engaged in the vague debates of a political philosophy without technical content, a social science reduced to journalistic commentary for election nights, and uncritical glossing of unscientific opinion polls. Plato had a wonderful word for all these people: doxosophers. These 'technicians of opinion who think themselves wise' (I'm translating the triple meaning of the word) pose the problems of politics in the very same terms in which they are posed by businessmen, politicians and political journalists (in other words the very people who can afford to commission surveys...).
Acts of Resistance 7. Doxa is Plato's word for opinion, or subjective judgment, as opposed to episteme, or systematic knowledge.

 

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